Eden offers both recorded podcasts and written blogs. Please scroll down for written blogs. If you would like to make a donation in order to support this work and in appreciation of these podcasts and blogs, you are welcome to do so here, All donations are greatly appreciated.

An Invitation for Changing Times

August 4, 2019 | Comments Off on An Invitation for Changing Times

At a time when so many among us are feeling powerless about social injustice, patriarchy, and the environment, overwhelmed by the issues of climate change and species extinction, and are seeking strength in their own commitment to awakening and acting, Nina Simons and I have co-created an extraordinary training offering tools and practices for a new paradigm of remembering who we truly are, and sensing, acting and centering in these relational realities. If you feel called to join us, please do not wobble. Take this opportunity to heart and register now… or reach out about a scholarship and find a way to be there for this.

This is a time for remembering our whole selves… for committing  to collective truth with more dedication, conviction, joy, and courage than we ever have before. Limiting beliefs – personal or societal – are not worth a moment of our time here. There is a huge opportunity for rebalancing that which has been off balance for generations of human history. The yin and yang, dark and light, expressive and receptive, active and passive aspects of nature and the human spirit. Through this sacred balance we remember wholeness… our innate wholeness. 

Our collective power comes from clear-seeing, perceiving wholeness rather than duality. Stepping beyond the false notions that the “inner work” is somehow separate from the outer work, beyond the notion that spiritual awakening is an individual pursuit, and beyond the notion that compassion is always passive and gentle, we acknowledge the invitation to wake up together and co-create the world we wish to see.

Having just returned from one of my retreats with Nina, I’m aware of the profound shifts that everyone experiences.  I am also aware of the web of interconnection through which each person’s transformation impacts the communities they interface with. Nina and I  have a way together of cutting through BS and inviting people into the power of shared presence and courage, which then becomes medicine for the entire collective. This work impacts our lives, our future, our history, our ancestors, and the human field of consciousness.

People of every gender can benefit from this training, and it is our future vision to offer this training for people of all genders. For this retreat, however, we are inviting women only to join us for a 5-day immersion in Colorado, September 16-20. Stay tuned… we will announce other invitations soon.


Nina and I draw upon decades of shared experience as leaders in our fields, as spiritual practitioners, leaders and activists, and women devoted to transforming our pain for our world into compassionate action. Nina’s work has focused largely on women and the emergent ‘feminine’ for the past twenty years. We draw upon the shared teachings of Relational Mindfulness, Leadership and Zen Buddhism, Shamanism, Indigeneity and spiritual traditions throughout the world.

Feature at InsightLA – On Reclaiming the Wild Heart

June 5, 2019 | Comments Off on Feature at InsightLA – On Reclaiming the Wild Heart

Our dear friends at InsightLA recently published an article on my upcoming teachings there later this month. Click here for the original article or read below.


An Eco-Dharma Daylong Retreat with Deborah Eden Tull

The world is accelerating – driven by our desires, our ambitions, and our obligations, we push ourselves harder and harder, to be more productive, to make more money, to squeeze everything we can out of every second of every day.  Our pursuit of greater security and higher living standards has grown so frenetic that it has infected our very planet, giving rise to a global fever with all the hallmarks of a terminal disease: we’re in the throes of a condition that is chronic, progressive, and fatal.

It never occurs to us that our own spiritual salvation might be somehow entwined with the fate of a planet, but this is precisely the message conveyed by Deborah Eden Tull, a popular mindfulness and zen meditation teacher with 25 years of experience as a sustainability consultant, who emphasizes the interconnection between personal and planetary well-being in her teaching.  In her words:

“Our culture is running really fast … but going in the wrong direction. Striving, trying to get somewhere, obsessed with fixing and improving ourselves, trying to win …”  [Inevitably, we stumble and fall.]  “The gift of ‘falling ill’ is that we lose the energy to run.  We are forced to surrender to presence.  And in presence we can open to a larger perspective. We can remember who we really are.  We are available for the teachings of love. … my hope is that people stop running and trying to fix/solve life, stop trying to maintain the momentum of the often stubborn mechanism of ego, and surrender.  For those who are willing to stop and surrender to the state of non-doing… being… spacious receptive awareness… this is where all healing occurs.”

Please join us for a day-long retreat with dharma teacher and author Deborah Eden Tull in the beautiful setting of Benedict Canyon. The day will include meditation and dharma talks, relational mindfulness and writing exercises and facilitated group discussion.  Eden will draw upon the teachings of the natural world, her forthcoming book, Relational Mindfulness: Reclaiming Our Shared Power in an Age of Disconnect” and Buddhist scholar and eco-philosopher Joanna Macy’s book,  “The World That Reconnects.”

Reclaiming the Wild Heart
with Deborah Eden Tull
​Saturday June 8th
10am – 4pm 
Benedict Canyon Retreat House 

You are Not Alone: Healing the Myth of Separation

March 14, 2019 | Comments Off on You are Not Alone: Healing the Myth of Separation

The dharma invites us to face ourselves fully. But through fear, we sometimes distract ourselves, over-fill ourselves, and hold onto external attachments, in order to avoid.…what? The illusion that we are separate and isolated manifests in ways conscious and unconscious, but over time practice reveals to us that it is simply the ego that fears surrendering to presence. Ego fears its own annihilation, which is liberation for the human heart.

Ironically, the root of the word “alone” is “all one.” It is by surrendering to the emptiness within that we remember wholeness. We remember relational intelligence, interconnection, and attunement with life by turning within, and learning to engage through wakefulness rather than habit.

In today’s world, there is a lot of conditioning that reinforces the myth of separation, and we see this through an epidemic of loneliness, competition, self-consciousness, othering (within and out), and superficial connection.

Some of the questions we will explore in this session include…

  • How do we enable the myth of separation without being fully aware of it? And how do we dismantle this myth?
  • How do we bring healing to the human experience of feeling alone or isolated?
  • How does being with aloneness tenderize and open us more deeply to the inherent field of interconnection?
  • How do the teachings of relational mindfulness ultimately teach us to live in greater reciprocity, cooperation, attunement, and love?
  • And how is engaged interconnection and a relational immersion in life fundamental for our awakening?

These teachings are inspired by Eden’s most recent book, Relational Mindfulness: A Handbook for Deepening Our Connection with Ourselves, Each Other, and Our World (Wisdom 2018).

Eden’s 4-week online course, “Relational Mindfulness: Bringing Mindfulness to the Beautiful and Messy Realm of Human Relationship,” begins March 19 with Realize Media.


Mindful Inquiry: A Path of Freedom and Joyful Responsibility

January 23, 2019 | Comments Off on Mindful Inquiry: A Path of Freedom and Joyful Responsibility

Mindful Inquiry: A Path of Freedom and Joyful Responsibility

Deborah Eden Tull recently taught on WorldwideInsight.org.  To view her teaching you can click here.

She taught on the topic of “Mindful Inquiry: A Path of Freedom and Joyful Responsibility”.

Check out Eden’s reflection on this topic below, along with some questions you can explore when reflecting on this theme.

A good teacher can point to the teachings and ignite our wakefulness, but it is up to each one of us to find the willingness to embody our practice in daily life. We are responsible for our own karma and our own freedom, and this can be a joyful and motivating realization.

Mindful Inquiry is the path of learning to ask the question that points to liberation. Rather than trying to fix, solve, or change ourselves or our experience, we learn to get out of the way of that which is already whole. Awareness is already awake. True nature is Complete, Empowered. Compassionate. Connected.

Practice invites us to learn how to see clearly, rather than through the lens of ego, and remember, again and again… who we really are. So…

  • How do we take a step backwards and avail ourselves of clear seeing?
  • How do we take joyful responsibility – for our practice and our shadows – in everyday life?
  • What is the motion that shifts us from victimization by our thoughts and emotions, to empowerment?
  • What is the mechanism by which we get ego out of the way and unlock the gate to our own self-healing?
  • What does it mean to embody genuine compassion – for ourselves and others – when we get stuck?
  • How do the qualities of patience, curiosity, willingness, courage, and fierce compassion, light the way in mindful inquiry?

In my session with Worldwide Insight, we explore the essence and practicalities of inquiry practice. We will rewire our understanding of practice as simply uncovering the true nature that is there beyond our conditioning. We will learn to access the deep listening and discernment required to ask wise and skilful questions… and the patience required to allow insight to unfold.
To find out more about Eden please visit her website. If you’d like to explore the topic of Mindful Inquiry further, check out Eden’s book.


Receptivity: Deep Listening as an Antidote to Reactivity and Violence

October 19, 2018 | Comments Off on Receptivity: Deep Listening as an Antidote to Reactivity and Violence


Deborah Eden Tull recently taught on WorldwideInsight.org .  To view her teaching you can click here.

She taught on the topic of “Receptivity: Deep Listening as an Antidote to Reactivity and Violence”.

Check out Eden’s reflection on this topic below, along with four questions you can explore when reflecting on this theme.

In these hyped up divisive times, there is an ever-greater need for tools to de-condition ourselves from reactivity. The practice of listening – within ourselves and with others – is much more significant than we often acknowledge.

The essence of practice is to be present with what is. We engage wholeheartedly in life by opening – with full receptivity- to life. As a dharma teacher I am well aware of how practice frees us from individual and collective distortion. As a woman I am aware that one such distortion in our society is the exaggerated masculine. Surprisingly it has been my Zen practice that has been my truest guide to remembering the deep feminine way of being, which is receptivity. I believe this is the kind of shift we need to see in our world-at-large. The receptive muscles we develop in practice reflect non-violence and non-separation.

The contrast of receptivity against the backdrop of a world conditioned to impose, label, judge, and solve, is the contrast between non-violence and violence. But…influenced by the illusion of separation and competition, we often fall into reactivity, forgetting the medicine that our receptive nature has to offer. By learning to take life in from a place of compassionate neutrality, we shift from spectator to engaged participant. We shift from judgment to clear seeing. And from separation to interconnection.

We need to learn to say more through speaking less… and to see one another clearly rather than competing to be right. I have found that the assumption that “I need to be heard” is often a misconception when the real need is to listen. This requires that we move beyond the fear of what will happen when we let go of asserting the self and surrender to presence.

In Sunday’s teaching, I invite inquiry into questions such as these:
* What happens when we deeply listen… to our self? To another? To any form of life?
* Who listens? What reveals itself through our listening? What heals itself through listening?
* What are we actually affirming when we call out a demand rather than listen? What does the practice of listening reveal to us about our ego structures?
* What happens, in the way of growth, when we are willing to hear, even during great conflict?

Listening to life as it unfolds moment by moment, is the essence of meditation. Deep Listening means to listen from full presence. It means listening to one another in a more attentive way, and to listen to life, moment by moment, without imposing our ideas onto life. We listen beyond surface thoughts or words to what is actually going on underneath. Practice invites us to cultivate awake receptivity with every opportunity.

In our fast-paced, busy world, receiving another human being without inserting one’s ego is an act of generosity. Deep listening dissolves the bubble of “I/Me” in any conversation or interaction. The listener has no agenda other than giving the whole of your attention to the person you are listening to with nonjudgment—not trying to fix or change anything or even be “helpful” to the other, but allowing our friend, coworker, loved one, or stranger to feel seen and heard. Listening in this way is a meditation in itself.

These reflections are inspired by my new book on Relational Mindfulness: A Handbook for Deepening Our Connection with Ourselves, Each Other, and the Planet (Wisdom 2018) Please join me Sunday… for a journey of deep listening.

Merging Relational Intelligence and Erotic Intelligence

June 7, 2018 | 1 Comment »

“Human sexuality is another area where we can either hide out in the guise of separate self or access freedom from the mind of separation. If we pay attention, eros can be our greatest ally in reclaiming the sacredness of being alive and in unity.”

Once a year, I offer a course about Mindful Sexuality: Healing the Sex-Spirit Divide. I feel passionate as a dharma teacher to help people build a bridge between their practice and the realm of sexuality, and have witnessed sexuality being left out of teachings far too often (both in Buddhism and secular mindfulness). I have personally witnessed people play out an unnecessary disconnect between the quality of presence they bring to the cushion and how they perceive their own sex life. Every time I’ve offered these teachings, I have witnessed tremendous healing and gratitude from those who have craved a compassionate space and clear mirror for empowering their relationship with erotic intelligence.

This work is about investigating more deeply and releasing the personal and collective conditioning that are pervasive in the field of human sexuality. This year, these teachings feel even more important. We are experiencing a unique moment in history where old wounds have come to the surface in our collective field. There is a unique opportunity for healing dynamics between men and women, in particular. As both a woman and dharma teacher, however, I have been truly disappointed in the ways I see us collectively avoiding a deeper healing. In other words, while I am grateful for the MeToo movement and the courage it has taken for women to speak our truth, I believe that the trance of separation and the habit of duality are largely getting in the way of deeper healing.

The ways I see duality preventing true healing include the following dynamics:

Women versus Men
People who have power versus people who do not
Victims versus Perpetrators
Repression versus Explosion

Blaming and shaming are not the only true tools for keeping libido in check. Has blaming and shaming yourself ever, even once, worked as a means for helping you to engage more consciously in life?

The way through this urge to lean into duality, as both crutch and habit, is to bring compassionate awareness to our personal – and collective – relationship with eros. The real opportunity of this time is to develop relational intelligence.

I offer this course as an antidote to the often negative medicine being passed around now about how best to heal what is wounded and unwholesome. Rather than making it about blaming and shaming or us verses them, I believe it is a moment for us to look at old ideas that are no longer serving us as sexual beings. I believe it is a moment to find the willingness to engage in deeper healing. Our collective healing begins deep within each of us – and then radiates outward to all of us.

I will end my reflections by sharing an excerpt from my book, Relational Mindfulness: A Handbook for Deepening Our Connection with Ourselves, Each Other, and the Planet.

“Eros is not just about how we relate in bed. It is also about how we engage from and with our whole being. It is also about our overall willingness to relate and show up for one another with courage, love, passion, and honesty. The tragedy of a society disconnected from eros is manifested by a tremendous amount of disembodiment, sexual violence, and abuse, but also loneliness, isolation, and self-loathing. On a day-to-day basis, the loss is people not being connected to their own life force and vitality as they engage in all of life’s activities. Beyond the thrill of seeking chemical stimulus, sexuality is about the pleasure of connection. Connection – to one another and to our own life force – is what we all want deep inside.

Erotic intelligence is our expression of wholeness as sexual beings. Erotic intelligence is the force that knows a true yes, the boundary of a no, unselfconscious enjoyment, the courage of vulnerability, and caring in-the-moment affection. Erotic intelligence is the foundation of honesty and trust that must exist in order for there to be intimacy. It is the celebration of our animal bodies without causing harm. Even in moments of sexual confusion or being pulled between our heads and our hearts, erotic intelligence can welcome that confusion too as part of the sexual journey. If we leave our sex lives out of our investigation of consciousness, I believe we are doing ourselves a great disservice. Given that human beings are wildly divergent in our needs and tastes sexually, it is a shame to trade in one’s truth for society’s made-up rules and manuals of behavior. In a world of sexual distortion, we each have an opportunity to turn towards, rather than away from, eros, and to be part of the healing of generations of distortion. The reward is deeper love, integrity, trust, pleasure, joy, and connection.

Relational Mindfulness allows sex to be another opportunity for deepening our capacity for presence and generosity, both on the giving and receiving end. There is nothing exotic or technique-y about bringing mindfulness to sex. And there is absolutely no standard for how mindful sex should look. Mindfulness simply helps us to remember and enjoy our innate capacity for loving connection, without the disruption of the mind of separation. It helps us to commit to non-separation and possibility in a deeply enjoyable aspect of human life.”

I hope that these reflections have been helpful to you. If you are someone who feels called to join me, remotely, for a month-long exploration to heal the Sex-Spirit Divide, you can find more information on my website, under Online Courses.

This work is open to everyone… every gender, sexual orientation, age, and race, those who are sexually active, and those who are not.

Quiet Reflections on Violence and Regeneration

May 25, 2018 | No Comments »


Today I’m present to tenderness from the violence in our world – like a raw open wound. I am as aware as ever that only when we allow our wounds to be touched are they healed.

It is the primary task, and not a casual task, for each of us who is witnessing the level of disconnect in our world today, to commit to cultivating a conscious compassionate relationship with our self. The human fabric is built on intimate relationship… and the human fabric is in crisis. The real work begins with being willing to turn towards, rather than away, from our pain and to allowing honesty to heal us.  

My new book came out on May 22. When a book is first published, it is often customary for the author to go into an active promotional push for visibility.

Instead, my partner and I are on retreat this week… a contemplative retreat…restoration and deep time in nature.  From the consciousness of “We,” rather than “I vs you,” I trust there is no push or force needed. I trust that this moment is calling for me to restore, to celebrate a big accomplishment before a book tour begins….to model regeneration as a vital part of being of service to the world. I am grateful to surround myself with fragrant earth and swaying trees and quiet cloud mountain tops… letting my awe for the natural world wash away the myth of separation between myself and any of it… or myself and any of you reading this right now. This is time to integrate the awareness of “We consciousness”… Life is there to remind us in every moment if we are listening. 

My book is about remembering the consciousness of “We” or interconnection, about cultivating shared power and releasing the myth of separation that supports “power over.”  

I wrote this book for people whose hearts feel tender from witnessing the level of disconnection in our world…and who understand that only when we turn towards, rather than away from, our pain for the world, do we prevent the news that bombards us every day to put us further into despair. Our pain becomes fuel for the regenerative nature of our heart. 

Please celebrate this work with me quietly this week by turning towards, rather than away, from your pain. Please celebrate with me by immersing yourself, if only just for a few minutes, in the contemplative regenerative field of nature.It is my hope that this book is passed from hand to hand, as part of healing our human fabric. 

If you read it and are moved by it, please pass it on. I wrote it for our collective healing in an age of great uncertainty. Click here for more information.

In Peace,


The Medicine for Disconnect

April 17, 2018 | No Comments »

My teacher used to say that when we embrace our ordinary self, we become a “social relief.” We no longer bring hidden agendas to our social interaction, such as needing to be seen as “special,” needing to be “right,” or needing approval from outside of ourself.  While there is some humor to this statement, as a dharma teacher I am struck by how many people experience a discrepancy between the still, quiet peace of their meditation practice and how they interact with co-workers, relatives, in romance, or in conflict. Even conscious people at times fall into reactivity, wear masks, perform, hide out, and get caught in projection.

I first began writing a book on Relational Mindfulness because I wanted people to know they can trust the healing capacity of their practice in all of their relationships. I wanted to help make a much clearer connection between meditation practice and their response to the state of our world. I wanted people to drop their notions of meditation and mindfulness as separate from their engagement with the global issues we face. There is no separation. Relational Mindfulness calls forth the courageous and compassionate engagement that we are here for. To connect with others in the field of presence is to participate in the self-healing of our world. From compassionate presence we allow ourselves to be woken up, again and again, to the interconnection that is our natural state. 

In 2007 I transitioned from years spent living at a silent Zen monastery to the megatropolis of LA, not by choice per se but to address a health challenge.  This wild and confronting transition showed me the true opportunity we have to accelerate our process of waking up through human relationship. There is a simple misunderstanding in the modern world. We have been taught to live in a paradigm of “I” verses “you” that subtly perpetuates the myth of separation. It disconnects us from one another, this earth, and from our deeper selves. Healing this myth is much easier than we think. 

From the consciousness of interconnection, we can: 

experience deeper belonging by “doing less”

see each other with compassion even in conflict

drop the painful habit of taking things personally

learn to be skillfully transparent in our communications

release the lens of “other” 

learn to connect with others more through our vibrant aliveness 

show up to be of service in more courageous ways in the world-at-large

Life gives us the invitation to “wake up” all day long. Given that few people will spend time at a silent monastery in this lifetime, and most of us interact with people all day long, it is vital to understand that we can awaken through relationship in everyday life.  We each have a capacity for loving presence that is far greater than we know. 

Relational Mindfulness in the Global Context

As the political landscape, first in in the US and then internationally, shifted, my book project took on even greater dimensions. I sat in on meetings with activists and change agents who were as caught up in divisiveness as anyone else. The fire of disconnect was stoked by people’s reactivity, finger pointing, and the habit of shutting down rather than remaining open in conflict. If we look at every ism and every instance of othering in our world, we see that the myth of separation is at the root of this confusion. Why continue to perpetuate this myth at a time when its consequences globally have become so clear?

Practice has taught me that as much as the mind tries to talk us into distortion, separation is not real. It is illusory. Interconnection is our natural state. We are used to experiencing interconnection through the people and places we love, but we have the choice in every moment to remember who we really are. 

Relational mindfulness is a set of principles and practices that help us to remember who we really are. It is based on 9 Buddhist teachings that include: Intention, The Sacred Pause, Deep Listening, Mindful Inquiry and Clear Seeing, Transparency, Turning Towards Rather Than Away, Not Taking Personally, Taking Responsibility, and Compassionate Action.

This work is heart-opening, reassuring, vulnerable at times. and at times requires great courage . It continually reminds us of our shared humanity and reconnects us with the ease and grace of doing less and resting more.

To experience or train in Relational Mindfulness, please join me in  my Online Course with Worldwide Insight. This course is a prelude to my book release on May 22. For those who wish to go deeper, attend a retreat this year or participate in my Facilitator Training this August at the Colorado Rocky Mountain Eco-Dharma Center. 

This work is life changing and will dissolve any remaining masks that keep you from your true self.

The Unguarded Heart: Meeting Anger and Resentment with Love and Forgiveness

March 28, 2018 | 1 Comment »

The following reflection was posted on Worldwide Insight.

Today’s mid-week reflection is by guest teacher Deborah Eden Tull and is entitled “The unguarded heart: meeting anger and resentment with love and forgiveness.” Eden will be further exploring this topic in her upcoming Sunday Insight session on the 1st April.

The Buddha taught that holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

Most of us have not been taught how to meet anger with compassion. In fact, most of us as children learned that, while some of our emotions were acceptable, anger, like resentment and jealousy, was not one of them. When we come to meditation practice, it is therefore easy to misinterpret the teachings. These teachings sometimes become skewed by the lens of our childhood or religious conditioning. So we continue to judge ourselves for becoming angry, suppressing anger, or believe we are simply poor meditation practitioners. We wonder why we’ve “failed” to find equanimity through difficult emotions such as resentment and rage.

To misunderstand our anger is to misunderstand ourselves. It is to misunderstand impermanence, reactivity, and fear. By distorting the teachings, we continue to judge ourselves and others. And we prevent ourselves from understanding the full potential of compassion’s empowering embrace.

In Sunday’s session, we will explore anger, resentment, jealousy, and other difficult emotions – learning how to see clearly and meet anger with true love and acceptance. We will explore our misunderstandings about anger and learn how to cultivate the compassionate presence that offers a vast and courageous expression of love. Compassion’s perception of anger is more nuanced than our small mind can perceive.

What is it to have a fearless and unguarded heart?

How can we work with anger and resentment in a healing way?

What is the role of forgiveness in liberating us from anger and resentment?

How can we cultivate forgiveness?

But isn’t it healthy to be angry in times like these?

Eden’s dharma talk will be followed by a forgiveness practice and time for question and answer/group discussion. 

This teaching draws upon 9 Buddhist teachings from Eden’s forthcoming book, Relational Mindfulness: A Handbook for Deepening Our Connection with Our Self, Each Other, and Our Planet. Realize Media is offering an online course with Eden, starting April 22nd, on Relational Mindfulness: Bringing Mindfulness to the Beautiful and Messy Realm of Human Relationship. Find out more here.


Welcoming the Unravelling of Old Self

March 11, 2018 | 1 Comment »

I offer this blog for all who have experienced unexpected loss, adversity, or spiritual growing pains this winter.

There is an ancient shamanic practice shared by many world traditions called Dismemberment. In Tibetan Buddhism the practice of chod or “feeding the demons” is an example of dismemberment, but similar practices can be found in European and South American shamanic traditions.

Traditionally, a shaman travels to the upper world, the gathering place of healing spirits, and requests to meet with a healing spirit to be dismembered. The spirit then proceeds to kill the shaman, dismembering their living form in whatever colorful, gruesome, brutal way the spirit chooses. The spirit literally takes apart the human body, piece by piece. The shaman simply surrenders.

Once dismembered, the soul is free and unencumbered by physical form, available to explore the cosmos. The soul is free of the limitations of physical form and free from the habits and patterning the physical form carries. During this period of “just being” the soul enjoys the luminosity of all possibility. 

After a period of time that feels like timelessness, the healing spirit invokes one part of the practitioners body back into form, often a part of the body that most needed healing. And slowly the physical body comes back together, renewed and re-birthed.  Being put together in this way is an expression of remembering truth. 

Sometimes life itself dismembers us in this same way. We may not be consciously aware of asking for dismemberment, but our hearts know well that renewal often begins with a great unravelling. 

In November 2017, my beloved Mark and I packed up our belongings and drove across country. After 8 days traversing new landscapes and soaking in hot springs, we arrived at our new home on the East Coast. While intuition and vision had inspired our move, we felt like we were stepping into a complete mystery, never before having lived in this part of the world. We craved a land of deep green, cheaper prices, and water in the form of rain, streams, lakes and waterfalls. We were seeking a clearer pathway to our shared dreams and less obstacles than California had offered. Something quietly beckoned to us from the northeast.

After a few weeks of pleasantly settling into our new place, I woke up one night dramatically gasping for breath. As we headed to the emergency hospital, our dismemberment began. A seemingly innocent allergy to something in our new home triggered a health crisis that took over our lives for the next 3 months. During this time, the Ojai fires hit, impacting the lives of our friends and neighbors in our previous home, igniting profound grief and shock within our hearts. Simultaneously a family member went through a heart-breaking struggle that shook me to the bones. Our visions of a new life were replaced overnight by everything seemingly completely falling apart.  

When life unravels, small mind tends to first go to reactivity, which is familiar ground for the ego. Why is this happening? How can I fix this quickly and get to my back to my normal self? What does this mean? And am I going to die?

I let go of long-planned teaching trips and holiday plans, creative projects and physical well-being. Amidst an unfamiliar landscape and struggling body, I made the only sane choice I know. I affirmed my commitment to stay as fiercely present as I could and to relinquish fear. For the next 2 months, I let go of plans and expectations and surrendered to the dismemberment. I asked the only useful question there is in times like these:

What teaching is life offering me at this time? What is the hidden gem in this unexpected chaos?

I listened. And multiple gems began to be revealed, from the loving support of the people in my life and the invitation to no longer be the one people lean on but the one who leans, to a reminder of how much of what can seem important in a work day is NOT, to a reminder of impermanence, to the invitation to receive REST in a way I had not done so in a long time. The gems began to emerge. A space slowly began to open up in my own foundation, allowing for new insights and subtle changes to my being. Lessons I thought I knew about love but had not yet embodied began to permeate me more deeply. 

While on the surface, being dismembered unexpectedly seems to completely disrupt life (work, finances, well-being, expectations), its greatest disruption is to EGO. Our habits, long-held patterns, and stubborn sense of “I” sometimes need to be given up completely in order to see more clearly. Sometimes we simply need to unravel and shed our skin in order to see with eyes anew. Practice invites us to continually let our old “self” dissolve… and yet sometimes life gives us more dramatic invitations to “step it up” and we have to be willing. Only as we harvest the gems of life unravelling, can there be a great unveiling, a glimpse of the freedom beyond old self. 

For me, the greatest gem from a dismemberment is not any particular insight that arises, but the opportunity to meet “this too” with love, and to extend our compassion to a life experience we think is “too much.” Dismemberment is an opportunity to remember who we really are. For myself and for so many I know whose lives have been disrupted this winter, as well as all of us who are experiencing collectively The Great Unravelling in our world, may we benefit from mindful inquiry:

How can I stay fiercely present through this unravelling and trust the process?

What am I being asked to truly let go of right now what is no longer serving me? 

What does releasing the old self actually make more room for? What is my resistance to releasing the old self?

When there is less energy/resources, how does this remind me that there is only time for true self? And only space for love and presence?  

What essential truth is this dismemberment helping me to remember?

Traditionally, dismemberment is actually considered a gratitude practice. It is only in the spirit of gratitude that we learn to trust life to guide us, sometimes in ways we could not preconceive. By feeling both our gratitude and our grief for the world’s suffering, practice teaches us to give ourselves fully to whatever lesson life is asking us to learn on behalf of the whole. 

I offer this blog post in the spirit of loving-kindness.